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Marantz SA-15S2B Limited Edition SACD Player Review  Print E-mail
Home Theater Audio Sources DVD-Audio/SACD Players
Written by Andre Marc   
Friday, 20 April 2012
Article Index
Marantz SA-15S2B Limited Edition SACD Player Review 
SACD Listening
CD and DAC Listening
Conclusion

First up was the classic Moody Blues masterpiece, Days Of Future Passed. I know this album backwards and forwards. What I heard from the SA-15S2B was astonishing, and I think would make the most jaded listener sit up and take notice.  I heard recorded detail, instrumental layers, and a sense of organic whole I had not yet heard from any previous version of this album. As a matter of fact, to go one step further, I had not heard such organic ease from any digital source I have had in my system. On tracks such as “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Sunset” there was a sense of being as close to the source as one could in a home music reproduction system.  I knew after playing this disc, this was going to be a very illuminating experience. I must point out however, that the Moody Blues discs are superb examples of DSD tape transfers.

I must also point out that is this is my second review of a Marantz SACD player, the last taking place several years ago. I honestly did not remember experiencing music like this back then. But not for any flaws in the player. It simply had to do with my expectations about the SACD format. I came to the review with false expectations about what SACD was capable of.  Now, being well acquainted with the DSD format, and hearing a large amount of high resolution PCM recordings, a competing formats, I am better equipped to judge the various higher resolution format options.

Moving on to more SACD discs, I spun most of Elton John’s early albums, including SACD hybrids of Elton John, Madman Across The Water, and Honky Chateau. I consistently heard an amazingly huge soundstage from these vintage analog recordings, and I felt it was about as close as I was going to get to hearing the actual master tape. When the opening piano chords of “Tiny Dancer”, from Madman, came tumbling out of the speakers, it was astonishing in its realism. Again, these are some of the best examples of DSD transfers, carefully overseen by the excellent mastering engineer Peter Mew.

Marantz SA-15S2B Limited Edition SACD Player

I next tackled my Bob Dylan SACD hybrid collection and it was more of the same. Classic titles like Blood On The Tracks, Desire, and John Wesley Harding were again revelatory played by the SA-15S2B in the feeling they gave of being as close to the source as possible. These albums sounded exactly like what they were, analog recordings with a great mix of acoustic and electric instruments. Dylan’s vocals were as palpable and convincing as I have ever heard.

A few more rock and pop titles I decided to spin were Derek & The Dominos Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs, and a bunch of Dead Can Dance titles. Layla deserves special mention since it has gotten a bad rap as somewhat of a dense, murky sounding album, but the SACD is punchy, crisp, clear, and live sounding. The Dead Can Dance albums are much more modern recordings, with serious dynamic range, unusual instrumentation, and ancient sounding melodies. The DCD titles easily bettered their CD counterparts.

The historic RCA Living Stereo classical recordings from the last century were given meticulous DSD transfers from the original tapes and they were just a sheer pleasure to listen to through the SA-15S2B. Strings were seductive and textured. Brass was remarkable. Percussion and piano sounds were sublime. Crescendos in pieces like Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheradaze and Dvorark’s New World Symphony seemed to have limitless depth and transformed my room in a concert hall, an illusion I had not really experienced before.



 

 
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